Psychosis is more common than many people might think. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 100,000 young people in America experience psychosis each year. As many as three in 100 people will have a psychotic episode at some point in their lives. Teenagers and young adults have a higher risk of experiencing psychosis due to changes in the brain during puberty.
What is Psychosis?
The most basic psychosis definition is a break with reality. Therefore, a psychosis episode is characterized by disruption to a person’s thoughts and perceptions that makes it difficult for them to determine what is real and what is not. A psychotic break is considered a symptom rather than a mental illness. Thus, psychotic disorders are mental health disorders characterized by periods of psychosis. Some of these disorders are schizophrenia, delusional disorder, psychotic depression, and bipolar psychosis. Psychosis causes include genetics, trauma, substance use, physical illness or injury, or mental health conditions. Moreover, psychosis can sometimes be the result of a brain tumor, dementia, prescription medications, or alcohol or drug abuse.
The most prevalent psychosis symptoms are delusions and hallucinations. Hallucinations include hearing, seeing, tasting, or feeling things that others cannot perceive. If the person is suffering from delusions, they have strong beliefs that are irrational and unlikely to be true. These include delusions of grandeur (thinking they have special powers, for example) or paranoid delusions (such as believing that an outside force is controlling their actions). Other psychotic symptoms are disorganized thought and speech, catatonia (unresponsiveness), and difficulty concentrating. Additionally, milder psychosis may manifest as anxiety, feelings of suspicion, and obsessive thinking.
Antipsychotic medications are often used to treat psychosis. Furthermore, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown to be useful in helping people with psychotic disorders manage their symptoms. In conclusion, early diagnosis and treatment is essential when addressing psychosis. Research has shown that treatment works better when it is started as soon as possible after the symptoms begin.